We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. It would include, but not be limited to: 

  1. Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and its Secretariat. 
  2. Revising the policies, criteria, and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.
  3. Developing and implementing a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusAug. 17, 2020IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusJune 15, 2020IN PROGRESS

Why “In Progress”?

The Government of Canada has initiated a  number of steps that directly address this Call to Action:

(i) Bill C-374 An Act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the Board) passed unanimously in the House on May, 8, 2018. Three additional board members – First Nations, Métis and Inuit- were officially appointed on June 11, 2018

(ii) Federal government will consult with Indigenous groups to revise the National Program of Historical Commemoration and

(iii) No specific mention of developing and implementing national heritage plan and strategy aside from $23.9M over 5 years to fund specific “Indigenous views, history and heritage” actions in national parks, marine conversation areas and historic sites.

March 4, 2020– The program funding deadline for projects under $5,000 has been extended

Significant Change

Sept. 5, 2019 – Revised “Changes will be made” to Bill C-374 “The Historic Sites and Monuments Act” to “proposes”.

i. Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis

Oct. 18, 2017 – Bill C-374: An Act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the Board) introduced. The Bill will add three indigenous members – First Nations, Métis and Inuit – to the board.

May 8, 2018 – Bill C-374 An Act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act (composition of the Board) passed unanimously in the House after Third Reading.

June 11, 2018 – Announced the appointment of three distinguished Canadians to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC):

  1. Lisa Prosper, from Inuvik, Northwest Territories, is a scholar and public speaker, presenting and publishing nationally and internationally on cultural landscape theory and practice, notably relating to Indigenous cultural heritage. Ms. Prosper’s appointment was effective March 26, 2018.
  2. Timothy Christian, from North Saanich, British Columbia, is a Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta. He has published and practiced extensively in the fields of constitutional, administrative and labour law, and has decades of experience in mediation, facilitation and negotiation at the provincial and federal levels. Mr. Christian’s appointment was effective May 19, 2018. 
  3. Bernard Thériault, from Caraquet, New Brunswick, represented the Caraquet region as Member of Provincial Parliament from 1987 to 2000. Now a retired public servant, Mr. Thériault served the New Brunswick government for over twenty-five years, including ten years spent as an historian and curator in its heritage branch.  Mr. Thériault’s appointment is effective June 13, 2018.
ii. Revising the policies, criteria, and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.

Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada through a combination of existing sites and new locations have integrated Indigenous history, heritage and culture throughout Canada. Sample sites include:

Edhaa (Fort Simpson island): Northwest Territories
July 9, 2017 – Łiidlįį Kų́ę́ Dene First Nation commemorated the importance of Edhaa as a place of national historic significance. Ehdaa has long been a traditional gathering place for the Dene, where people came together to trade, renew old ties, resolve disputes, and participate in ceremonies of healing.

Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst, Prince Edward Island
July 5, 2018 – Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI commemorated the first permanent European settlement on Île Saint-Jean (today Prince Edward Island). After falling to British forces in 1758, it became the site of a major deportation of French and Acadian settlers. A Grand Alliance was forged here between the Mi’kmaq and French – one of only two locations in North America where this was celebrated annually with speeches, gifting and feasting.

Aug. 13, 2019 – Commemorated the national historic significance of the 18th century Mi’kmaq-French Alliance with a special plaque unveiling ceremony. The 18th century Mi’kmaq-French Alliance reflected both Mi’kmaq and French understandings of diplomacy, including the ceremonial exchange of gifts, and provides an explicit example of how formal relationships were negotiated, annually renewed and how cultural understandings were accommodated in some parts of France’s North American empire.

Ukkusiksalik  National Park, Nunavut
Ukkusiksalik means “place to find stone to make pots” in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit of Nunavut. Hundreds of archaeological sites show that the area has been a gathering spot for Inuit for over 3,000 years, Inuksuit (plural of inuksuk) wayfinding, stone markers used by Inuit, are plentiful across the park landscape.

Batoche National Historic Site, Saskatchewan
(Métis) – Batoche was the final battlefield of the Northwest Resistance of 1885, an uprising born of years of the Metis people feeling excluded from the growth and development of the Canadian West. Batoche commemorates this armed conflict between the Canadian government and the Metis provisional government led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont.

Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site, Alberta
Piikani First Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy. For 76 years Rocky Mountain House was the centre of commerce for the west. The great mapmaker, David Thompson used the site as his starting point when seeking passage to the west coast. In the thick forests of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the rapids at the confluence of the North Saskatchewan and the Clearwater rivers mark a site where in 1799, the Northwest Company established Rocky Mountain House here to serve as a fur trade post

Beothuk
Jan. 21, 2019 Miawpukek First Nation, Newfoundland and Labrador. Chief Mi’sel Joe was the lead advocate to have The National Museum of Scotland transfer Beothuk remains to Canada. Through tremendous partnership and perseverance, we can restore these remains to their rightful home, reflect on what has been lost, and be hopeful about what can be gained through reconciliation, and by honouring Indigenous culture. Premier Dwight Ball

Obadjiwan-Fort Témiscamingue National Historic Site
July 5, 2019 – Timiskaming First Nation – The Government of Canada will transfer 50% of the ownership of the national historic site into a trust to better represent Indigenous history. Co-ownership will help protect Indigenous history and culture and enable the Timiskaming First Nation to be directly involved in the management of the national historic site. With this new agreement and name (addition of Obadjiwan), the site will now better reflect 6,500 years of Indigenous land use and occupation in Obadjiwan and the surrounding area of Lake Temiskaming.

Samuel de Champlain Monument, Ontario
July 24, 2019 – Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Huron-Wendat Nation -Report and Recommendations released on behalf of Samuel de Champlain Monument Working Group agreeing with all recommendations:

  1. That the Samuel de Champlain Monument be re-installed with only the central figure of Samuel de Champlain atop the plinth and that this installation occur immediately.
  2. That the First Nations figures along with the figures of the Fur Trader and Missionary be the subject of further consultation with First Nations. It is the hope of the Samuel de Champlain Monument Working Group that future work, with the aim of re-imagining their presence in the immediate vicinity of the original Monument, will result in a meaningful and concrete example of Reconciliation.
  3. That the text of the original Monument’s “in-set plaque” be updated so that it will honour the original intent within the context of contemporary knowledge and wisdom.
  4. That additional interpretive signage/pieces be developed and created with the participation of First Nations representatives to tell a historically accurate story of Samuel de Champlain and his relationship with First Nations.
iii. Developing and implementing a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.

Assembly of First Nations Recommendations

Resolution No 96/2018 – Support for TRC Call to Action #79 (iii)

  1. Direct the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Call to Action #79 (iii) – a national heritage strategy to commemorate all Residential School sites.
  2. Direct the AFN to support the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) bringing forward a survivor and community focused submission to the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board (NHSMB) calling for Canada to officially designate all Residential Schools sites as National Historical Sites.
  3. Direct the AFN to support the NCTR making a submission to the NHSMB based on the following principles:
    • communities be in control of any monuments erected on the sites of residential schools
    • communities have full agency over determining the scope, form and content of any monuments including having agency to decline a monument
    • communities be empowered to develop community narratives supportive of this work in accordance with TRC Call to Action #78, which calls upon the Government of Canada to commit to making a funding contribution of $10 million over 7 years to the NCTR, plus an additional amount to assist communities to research and produce histories of their own Residential Schools experience and their involvement in truth, healing, and reconciliation
    • there is an ongoing need to honour and acknowledge the children that never returned home from the schools
    • there remains the continued existence of hundreds of unmarked burial sites associated with Residential School sites
  4. Direct the AFN to call upon the National Historical Sites and Monuments Board to recognize Residential School sites as national historic sites.
  5. Direct the AFN to call upon the Government of Canada to encourage the NCTR to develop a fulsome response and plan for responding to TRC Calls to Action #72-76 and the realization of community narratives outlined in Call to Action #78.
Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

The Government of Canada is working with various partners to change the membership of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to include First Nations, Inuit and Métis representation. Bill C-374 proposes changes to the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to allow for 3 additional board members to be appointed. It is important to ensure that the way historic sites, events and people of national significance are presented and commemorated is inclusive of Indigenous peoples perspectives. The Government of Canada is also committed to commemorating the residential school legacy in a way that is meaningful, respects the diversity of survivor perspectives and is flexible to new ways of commemoration.

Engagement with Indigenous partners on both a national commemoration of the residential school legacy and on the roles and responsibilities of the anticipated 3 additional Historic Sites and Monuments Board members has begun.

In response to this call to action, Budget 2018 announced $23.9 million over 5 years, starting in fiscal year 2018 to 2019, for Parks Canada to integrate Indigenous views, history and heritage into the national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites managed by the department.